Business & Economy

NAACP Los Angeles president resigns following Sterling controversy

Leon Jenkins, President of the Los Angeles branch of the NAACP.
Leon Jenkins, President of the Los Angeles branch of the NAACP.
Brian Watt/KPCC

Following the Donald Sterling controversy, Leon Jenkins has resigned from his post as president of NAACP-Los Angeles.

Jenkins was to present Sterling with a "lifetime achievement award" later this month. Jenkins rescinded that offer after a recording surfaced on which Sterling disparaged black men.

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By resigning, Jenkins said he hopes to distance himself from the "negative exposure I have caused the NAACP," according to an excerpt from his resignation letter, which was posted on the organization's website:

“Please be advised that the legacy, history and reputation of the NAACP is more important to me than the presidency.  In order to separate the Los Angeles NAACP and the NAACP from the negative exposure I have caused the NAACP, I respectfully resign my position as President of the Los Angeles NAACP.”

Jenkins wanted to give Sterling a "lifetime achievement award" May 15 at the 100th anniversary celebration of the Los Angeles chapter. The decision was questioned by some civil rights activists, who cited allegations of discrimination in Sterling's past.

In November 2009, Sterling agreed to pay $2.73 million to settle allegations by the government that he refused to rent apartments to Hispanics and blacks and to families with children. The U.S. Justice Department sued Sterling in August 2006 for allegations of housing discrimination in the area of Los Angeles.

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In addition to withdrawing the "lifetime achievement award," the NAACP said it would return any money Sterling donated.

In a statement accompanying the announcement, the national NAACP said it is "developing guidelines for its branches to help them in their award selection process."

At a press conference earlier this week, Jenkins would not say how much money Sterling has given the Los Angeles branch, characterizing it as "insignificant."

"It's an insignificant amount of money, and we're going to return it," Jenkins said Monday. "It's not a whole lot of money in terms of what it takes us to operate."

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